The Control Process

The project control process is designed to spot problems early, while they are still small enough to correct. It is an iterative feedback loop in which the project manager uses measurement and testing to evaluate deviations from the plan as to cost, schedule, quality, and risk. These deviations may or may not result in corrective action. The key is to monitor closely enough and often enough to spot such deviations before they get out of control. There are five steps in the project control process:

- Define what will be measured and/or tested and how often. This should incorporate business requirements, cost constraints, technical specifications, and deadlines, along with a preliminary schedule for monitoring that includes who is responsible for it.

- Monitor progress and evaluate deviations from the plan. During each reporting period, two kinds of information are collected:

Actual project data, which include time, budget, and resources used, along with completion status of current tasks.

Unanticipated changes, which include changes to budget, schedule, or scope that are not results of project performance. For example, heavy rain may delay the completion of a housing project. Earnedvalue analysis, described later in this chapter, is a useful method for evaluating cost and schedule deviations.

- Report progress. Keep reports succinct and timely. Do not delay a report until after a problem is “fixed” to make the report look better. Likewise, avoid lengthy reports that delay the dissemination of important information to others in the organization.

- Analyze the report. Look for trends in the data. Avoid trying to “fix” every deviation. If there is no trend to the deviation, it likely does not require corrective action at this time.

- Take action where necessary. This includes updating the project plan and notifying any stakeholders who are affected by the changes. If the changes are big enough, they will require stakeholder approval in advance.


All project managers have their own ways of working to maintain control of their projects. The key is to stay on top of project status and look for those early indicators of problems and act on them. Mr. Verzuh has outlined some steps to take within your projects to setup these controls or alerts. Nothing is fail-safe, but it’s important that you have a consistent process in place.